Most investors unabashedly make their decisions with the primary goal of making money. But “impact investors” are a different breed: they seek to do good in the world with their dollars, but through investing rather than just traditional means of charitable giving.
One of the leading “impact investing” groups in New Jersey is the New Jersey Health Foundation, a nonprofit group that makes investments through its Foundation Venture Capital Group in addition to making more traditional grants. The foundation supports health-related research and education programs.
Earlier this year the Forrestal Village-based group awarded more than $1 million to various research organizations. It also invested in biotech companies such as Visikol, a Whitehouse Station-based 3D tissue imaging and digital image analysis company.
Mike Wiley, vice president of NJHF and the Foundation Venture Capital Group, will discuss impact investing at a meeting of the Princeton Entrepreneurship Council on Thursday, November 15, at 5:30 p.m. at Princeton Innovation Center Biolabs at 303A College Road East. For more information, visit entrepreneurs.princeton.edu.
The Health Foundation has also provided support to researchers in the Route 1 corridor. A recent recipient was Alexander Ploss, a Princeton professor, who received $50,000 to study new treatments for hepatitis B and E infections (See U.S. 1, November 7). Fellow Princeton researcher Yibin Kang got a grant to study potential combination therapies for cancer cells.
A Princeton-associated startup, Paracelsus Neuroscience, received a $50,000 investment to develop treatments for neuropathic pain. Another investment went to DuelPrep, a company founded by two Rutgers researchers, that makes an app to help medical students and physicians study for their board exams.
The NJHF funds these grants with its $180 million endowment. It has established formal partnerships with Princeton, the Kessler Foundation, Rowan and Rutgers universities, NJIT, and the Stevens Institute of Technology.
Before joining the organization in 2014, Wiley held several jobs at the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, including as a venture officer in the Edison Innovation Fund. He previously worked at Avaya, at Rutgers as licensing and technology manager, and at Lucent Technologies. He has an MBA from the West Virginia University College of Business.